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  • Writer's pictureDr. Monica L. Hilton, DACM, LAc

5 TCM Tips for Spring

Spring has sprung!🌷 Spring is a time of growth, cleansing, and renewal. The days are longer, the weather is warmer, and flowers start to bloom. In Chinese medicine Spring is associated with the Wood element and is known as the time of the Liver. During this time of year it's important to balance the Liver energy and make the necessary dietary and lifestyle adjustments to harmonize with the season.

In Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM) we have the theory of Five Elements which is an ancient Chinese system that serves as a guide to understand the correspondences between the body and nature. The Five Elements are Wood, Fire, Earth, Metal, and Water with each having its own unique set of characteristics and correspondences. The Wood element corresponds to the following:

Season: Spring Stage of Development: Birth

Direction: East Organs: Liver and Gall Bladder

Color: Green Sense Organ: Eyes

Taste: Sour Tissue: Tendons

Climate: Wind Emotion: Anger

According to TCM theory the Liver is in charge of ensuring a smooth flow of qi and blood throughout the body. It rules the tendons, muscles and ligaments and is also responsible for storing the blood. The Liver is sensitive to emotional upset, a stressful lifestyle, and pathogenic wind. In Chinese medicine wind is one of the external causes of illness. Wind conditions typically have a rapid onset like the flu or common cold, move swiftly, or come and go. Other characteristics of wind conditions include spasms, itching, dizziness, tremors, and moving pains. Wind symptoms are more prevalent in the spring but can occur at any time of year.

When Liver qi and blood are imbalanced one may experience muscle tension or pain, headaches, frustration, anxiety, or insomnia. One may also have digestive issues like bloating, indigestion, and belching. The Liver governs the eyes so when its qi and blood are out of balance one may experience blurred vision, dry eyes, floaters, or itchy eyes. The taste associated with the Liver is sour. If you're craving sour foods this could be a sign that your Liver needs a little help. Anger is the emotion associated with the Liver. If you often feel irritable, frustrated, or angry these can all be signs that your Liver qi is not flowing properly. TCM can work to correct these imbalances with the use of acupuncture, Chinese herbal medicine, and TCM nutrition. By adjusting our diet and making a few lifestyle changes we can restore balance to the Liver and harmonize with the season.

Here are a few tips to help you (and your Liver 😊) this spring:

Get acupuncture! Acupuncture can relax the muscles, reduce the physical effects of stress, relieve headaches, and calm anxiety by bringing the Liver energy back into balance. For those who suffer from seasonal allergies this time of year, acupuncture can open the nasal passages, reduce sinus pressure, relieve sinus headaches, calm the body’s inflammatory response, and stop itching.

Eat your greens! In TCM, we use foods for their energetic properties to correct imbalances within the body. Green is the color associated with Spring and the Liver. By eating green cleansing foods, we can harmonize and rejuvenate the Liver. Leafy greens like spinach, mustard greens, Swiss chard, and kale revitalize Liver qi and nourish Liver blood, while greens like collards, spirulina, chlorella, wheatgrass, and dandelion greens cleanse the Liver.

Incorporate sour foods into your regular diet. Sour is the flavor associated with this time of year as it influences the Liver and Gall Bladder. Sour foods that soothe the Liver include plum, lemon, apple, orange, kiwi, cranberry, and tangerine.

Get moving! Mild exercises like stretching, walking, tai chi, qi gong, and yoga help soothe the Liver qi and strengthen the tendons. These exercises can also help calm the nervous system, reduce stress, improve mental clarity, and boost mood.

Keep covered. During this time of year, the weather can be unpredictable. You may have noticed frequent changes in the temperature over the past few days. Do your best to reduce exposure to drafts. Keep a light jacket nearby or wear a lightweight scarf around your neck to protect yourself from pathogenic wind.

Thanks for stopping by! If you enjoyed these TCM health tips feel free to share them with a friend.

See you soon! 😊

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